Plant and Soil

, Volume 195, Issue 1, pp 99–106

Potential for phytoextraction of137 Cs from a contaminated soil

  • Mitch M. Lasat
  • Wendell a. Norvell
  • Leon V. Kochian


Potential for phytoremediation of a soil contaminated with radiocesium was investigated in three phases: (1) hydroponic screening for plant species capable of accumulating elevated levels of cesium in shoots, (2) investigation of several amendments for their potential to increase the bioavailability of 137Cs in the contaminated soil, and (3) bioaccumulation of radiocesium in shoots of plants grown in137 Cs-contaminated soil.

The bioaccumulation ratio for Cs in shoots of hydroponically grown plants ranged between 38 and 165. From solution, dicot species accumulated 2- to 4-fold more cesium in shoots than grasses. In studies investigating the bioavailability of 137Cs in aged contaminated soil, ammonium salts were found to be the most effective desorbing agents, releasing approximately 25% of the137 Cs. The extent of 137Cs desorption from the soil increased with ammonium concentration up to 0.2 M. In a pot study conducted in a greenhouse, there was significant species-dependent variability in the ability to accumulate 137Cs in the shoot from contaminated soil. The ability to accumulate 137Cs from the soil increased in the order: reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) < Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) < tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius)< cabbage (B. oleracea var. capitata). It was also found that addition of NH4NO3 solution to the soil elicited a two- to twelve-fold increase in 137Cs accumulation in the shoot. The greatest amount of 137Cs (40 Bq g-1 dw) was removed in shoots of cabbage grown in contaminated soil amended with 80 mmols NH4NO3 kg-1 soil. Bioaccumulation ratios of 2–3 were obtained with the best performing plant species. These values are significantly greater than those previously reported in the literature (usually <0.1) for plants grown on aged contaminated soil. These results indicate that careful species selection along with amendments that increase the bioavailability of137 Cs in the soil could greatly enhance the prospects for the use of plants to remediate 137Cs-contaminated soils.

ammonium nitrate cesium accumulators cesium bioavailability cesium uptake phytoremediation radiocesium 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baker A J M, McGrath S P, Sidoli C D M and Reeves R D 1994 The possibility of in situ heavy metal decontamination of polluted soils using crops ofmetal-accumulating plants. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 11, 41–49.Google Scholar
  2. Barber D A and Mitchell W A 1963 Influence of soil organic matter on the uptake of 137Cs by perennial ryegrass. In Annual Report on Radiobiology 1962–1963. ARCRL-10. pp 57–58. Agricultural Research Council, Oxfordshire.Google Scholar
  3. Bergeijk van K E, Noordijk H, Lembrechts J and Frissel M J 1992 Influence of pH, soil type and organic matter content on soilto-plant transfer of radiocesium and-strontium as analyzed by a nonparametric method. J. Environ. Radioact. 15, 265–276.Google Scholar
  4. Buysse J, Van Den-Brande K and Merckx R 1996 Genotyic differences in the distribution of radiocaesium in plants. Plant Soil 178, 265–271.Google Scholar
  5. Cremers A, Elsen A, De Preter P and Maes A 1988 Quantitative analysis of radiocaesium retention in soils. Nature 335, 247– 249.Google Scholar
  6. Dahlman R C, Francis C W and Tamura T 1975 Radiocesium cycling in vegetation and soil. In Mineral Cycling in Southeastern Ecosystems. Eds. F G Howell, J B Gentry, and M H Smith. ERDA Symposium Series (CONF-740513), pp 462–481. Springfield, VA.Google Scholar
  7. Demirel H, Özer I, Çelenk I, Halitligil M M and Özmen A 1994 Uptake of cesium-137 by crops from contaminated soils. J. Environ. Qual. 23, 1280–1282.Google Scholar
  8. Entry J A, Rygiewicz P T and Emmingham W H 1993 Accumulation of cesium-137 and strontium-90 in Ponderosa and Monterey pine seedlings. J. Environ. Qual. 22, 742–745.Google Scholar
  9. Entry J A, Vance N A, Hamilton MA, Zabowsky D, Watrud L S and Adriano D C 1996 Phytoremediation of soil contaminated with low concentrations of radionucleides. Water Air Soil Pollut. 88, 167–176.Google Scholar
  10. Field J G, Belden R D, Serne R J, Mattigod S V, Freeman H D, Scheck R W and Goller E D 1993 100 area Hanford soil washing treatability tests. 'Meeting the Challenge' Environmental Remediation Conference, October 24–28, Augusta, Georgia. Vol. 1, pp 377–381. US Dept of Energy, Office of Environmental Restoration, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  11. Finston H L and Kinsley M T 1961 The radiochemistry of cesium. National Academy of Sciences. Nuclear Science Series 3035. US Atomic Energy Commission, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  12. Francis C W and Brinkley F S 1976 Preferential adsorption of 137Cs to micaceous minerals in contaminated freshwater sediments. Nature 260, 511–513.Google Scholar
  13. Frederiksson L, Garner R J and Russel R S 1966 Caesium-137. In Radioactivity and Human Diet. Ed. R S Russel. pp 317–352. Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  14. Gombert D 1993 Soil washing evaluation by sequential extraction for test reactor area warm waste pond. 'Meeting the Challenge' Environmental Remediation Conference, October 24– 28, Augusta, Georgia. Vol. 2. pp 371–376. US Dept of Energy, Office of Environmental Restoration, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  15. Jackson W A, Craig D and Lugo H M 1965 Effects of various cations on cesium uptake from soils and clay suspensions. Soil Sci. 99, 345–353.Google Scholar
  16. Kirk G J and Staunton S 1989 On predicting the fate of radioactive caesium in soil beneath grassland. J. Soil Sci. 40, 71–84.Google Scholar
  17. Lakanen E and ErviöR 1971 A comparison of eight extractants for the determination of plant available micronutrients in soils. Acta Agric. Fenn. 123, 223–232.Google Scholar
  18. Livens F R and Loveland P J 1988. The influence of soil properties on the environmental mobility of caesium in Cumbria. Soil Use Manage. 4, 69–75.Google Scholar
  19. Manolakis E and Lüdders P 1977 Die Wirkung gleichmäßiger und jahreszeitlich abwechselnder Ammonium-und Nitraternährung auf Apfelbäume. I. Einfluss auf das vegetative Wachstum. Gartenbauwissenschaft. 42, 1–7.Google Scholar
  20. Morgan M F 1941 Chemical soil diagnosis by the universal soiltesting system. Conn. State Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull. 450, 579–628.Google Scholar
  21. Nisbet A F and Shaw S 1994 Summary of 5-year lysimeter study on the time-dependent transfer of 137Cs, 90Sr, 239, 240Pu and 241Am to crops from three contrasting soil types: 1. Transfer to the edible portion. J. Environ. Radioact. 23, 1–17.Google Scholar
  22. Nishita H, Haug R M and Larson K A 1968 Influence of minerals on Strontium-90 and Cesium-137 uptake by bean plant. Soil Sci. 105, 237–243.Google Scholar
  23. Pill W G, Lambeth V N and Hinckley T M 1978 Effects of nitrogen forms and level of ion concentrations, water stress, and blossomend rot incidence in tomato. J. Am. Soc. Hortic. Sci. 1031, 265–268.Google Scholar
  24. Resnik M C, Lunt O R and Wallace A 1969 Cesium, potassium, strontium, and calcium transport in two different plant species. Soil Sci. 108, 64–73.Google Scholar
  25. Salt D E, Blaylock M, Kumar N P B A, Dushenkov V, Ensley B D, Chet I and Raskin I 1995 Phytoremediation: a novel strategy for the removal of toxic metals from the environment using plants. Bio/technol. 13, 468–474.Google Scholar
  26. Salt C A, Mayes R W and Elston D A 1992 Effects of season, grazing intensity and diet composition on the radiocesium intake by sheep on a re-seeded hill pasture. J. Appl. Ecol. 29, 378–387.Google Scholar
  27. Sawhney B L 1965 Sorption of cesium from dilute solutions. Soil. Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 29, 25–28.Google Scholar
  28. Schultz R K 1965 Soil chemistry of radionucleides. Health Phys. 11, 1317–1324.Google Scholar
  29. Shaw G and Bell J N B 1991 Competitive effects of potassium and ammonium on caesium uptake kinetics in wheat. J. Environ. Radioact. 13, 283–296.Google Scholar
  30. Smolders E and Shaw G 1995 Changes in radiocaesium uptake and distribution in wheat during plant development: a solution culture study. Plant Soil 176, 1–6.Google Scholar
  31. Tamura T 1964 Selective sorption reactions of cesium with soil minerals. Nucl. Safety. 5, 262–268.Google Scholar
  32. Tensho K, Yeh K-L and Mitsui S 1961 The uptake of strontium and cesium by plants from soil with special reference to the unusual cesium uptake by lowland rice and its mechanism. Soil Plant Food 6, 176–183.Google Scholar
  33. Watson R, Glick D, Horsenball M, McCormick J, Begley S, Miller S, Carroll Gand Keene-Osborn S 1993 America's Nuclear Secrets. pp. 14–18. Newsweek December 27, 1993.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitch M. Lasat
    • 1
  • Wendell a. Norvell
    • 1
  • Leon V. Kochian
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory, Usda-ArsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

Personalised recommendations